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Ask the Book Doctor

By Bobbie Christmas

Ask the Book Doctor: Some Decisions Are up to the Author

Q: What do you think about the difference between the American and British use of some words without an article, as in the following examples: We took vacation in Florida. He graduated high school. He got concussion from his bike accident. He is in university. She is on holiday in Bermuda.

A: What I think makes no difference. What matters are the opinion of your publisher and the location of your intended market. All those British terms are fine in dialogue if your character is British, but in narrative, I advise against it, unless you are writing for a British market in a casual style.

Q: I am planning to finish my book project and print about 1,000 copies. I can sell 1,000 copies in a week or two just from relatives and friends, and then I can send a finished book to a publisher and see if they want to revise it and publish it.

The alternative is to send the polished manuscript to a few publishers to see what they thought, but I have been told my chances of getting my book published are practically zero.

What do you think I should do? If it’s a pipedream to get someone to publish my book, I don’t want to wait around another year in dire hopes.

A: I can't tell you what to do; you have to decide what's important to you, so educate yourself in all the pros and cons of self publishing and traditional publishing. If having a published book right away is more important than waiting for the possibility of having your name appear on a traditionally published book, you may choose self publishing. If you want national distribution more than immediate gratification, you may choose traditional publishing. Many other desires and needs should go into the decision as well, and the decision should be approached with knowledge, rather than emotion. To help in your decision, order my free email report #110 – Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing.

Although it is true that only one percent of the manuscripts written today actually get published by traditional publishers, publishers release new books every day, so writers are getting published. If, however, you have a viable, valuable outlet and distribution system for your book, you may make more money and definitely will get the book to the market sooner if you self publish.

Know your goals going in, and you won't be disappointed. If you think you can sell 1,000 copies on your own, self-publishing may be a good way to go. Do not think self publishing the book will aid in selling the book to a traditional publisher, though. In fact, few publishers want self-published books; they want first rights or nothing at all, unless you can prove the book has sold 5,000 copies or more, in which case a publisher may want to pick it up when it has a proven track record.

Q: I am in the process of writing a book. Should I go ahead and trademark the book name now?

A: I'm not an attorney, but as I understand it, you cannot copyright the name of a book or even trademark it, but you can trademark a name that covers a series of products, such as a textbook, a seminar, and a workbook with the same overriding title. As for paying to register your trademark, that decision is up to you. When I created a series of books around my Write It and Reap™ system, I chose not to officially register the name, but I still am allowed to use the TM symbol.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office says on its Web site, "Any time you claim rights in a mark, you may use the TM (trademark) or SM (service mark) designation to alert the public to your claim, regardless of whether you have filed an application." For more information see

—Do you have a question for Book Doctor Bobbie Christmas? Send it today to



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